Airport Security Customs Tips
Making your way home from international travel can be a pain-free process when you are fully prepared to pass through customs. Here are a few tips to ensure there will be no issues getting you back safely into the U.S.
Have your passport at the ready. The first document you will be asked to show when re-entering the country is your passport. While you can return to a select few areas with only a birth certificate -short trips to Canada, some parts of the Caribbean, and Mexico- you will be required for all other travels to show passport identification.
Don’t forget to always have enough room to be stamped back into the country on your passport! Buy a passport insert if space is running thin.
Keep a list of purchases. While on your trip, it can oftentimes be easier to keep track of purchases directly after buying them as opposed to making a list at the time you receive your customs sheet. Make a running list that you can add to while shopping to miss nothing when declaring items on your return trip.
Be ready to answer for certain items. Things like large amounts of cash, fruit, plants, or extravagant purchases are the items that customs is there to help properly traffic. If you are planning on crossing the international borders with these items be ready to explain why you are traveling with them, and make sure to declare them on your form.
Know declaration values for your country of travel. Each country will have a different standing range in terms of the dollar amount for how much you can bring back into the country. Exemptions for goods brought back into the U.S. range from 400 to 1,200 U.S. dollars.
Have all your paperwork ready when standing in line. Do not linger in filling out your customs claim form as it can take a surprising amount time to remember the details of all your purchases and personal items. Most flyers nowadays will be given the option to start filling out their customs claim onboard nearing the end of their flight home. Take advantage of this to ensure plenty of time to finish your form correctly.
Ask the flight attendant remaining questions instead of the customs agent. Don’t wait till you reach the customs agent to double check your form and if you have filled out a portion correctly. If you are at all unsure about whether to mark an item on your customs form, request a flight attendant’s help.
Since travelers have to work around heightened security measures when traveling for business and leisure, they can often expect to deal with lengthy airport security lines. In its efforts to prevent a safety breach, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides passengers with specific guidelines for carry-on and checked airport luggage, and there are several tips that help streamline the security process when flying domestically or overseas.
Don't forget the zip-top bag. All liquid toiletry items must be three ounces or under, and must fit securely into one plastic zip-top bag. For those who forget the rules or neglect to bring a zip-top, toiletry items can be transported in checked luggage.
Wear slip-on shoes to simplify the airport check-in process. Since every passenger is required to send their shoes through the x-ray machine, it is not convenient to wear footwear with excessive lacing.
Avoid the last-minute panic. Leave at least an hour and a half to get through security and get settled at the gate. TSA authorizes random carry-on checks and pat-downs, so it pays to arrive with time to spare.
Be prepared to remove laptops from their cases. Some airports require this, and it simplifies the process if the computer is readily available. You can also invest in carry-on luggage with TSA approved compartments to avoid the hassle of finding and removing your laptop from your luggage.
If traveling with a pet onboard a flight, TSA rules that you must remove the animal from its carrier and walk through the metal detector with it in your arms.
Children must be taken out of their strollers and walked through the metal detector. Collapse your stroller and put it on the conveyor belt to pass through the machine, as the TSA has mandated that this item must still be checked at security.
Sign up for global entry, a program that allows people who have built up enough “flyer credit” to be able to go through an expedited security line.
Check in with a mobile boarding pass to skip the long lines at boarding pass check-in.
Don’t wear your jacket in line, but rather pack it in your carry-on. Jackets are not allowed to be worn through the detector.
Be sure you have two bags before getting in line for security when you are flying with a program that has a strict two pieces rule for carry-on travel.
Have out your boarding pass (mobile or paper form) and ID. These are the only two items you will need out during the security check-in process.